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tv   Washington Journal Philip Breedlove  CSPAN  January 28, 2022 9:17am-9:36am EST

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guide or watch on-line anytime at >> general phillip breedlove served as supreme allied commander 2013-2016 currently with the middle east institute as their distinguished chair of the frontier europe initiative. is on with us this morning to talk about the increasing tensions between ukraine and russia. welcome to washington journal. thank you for having me, i'm looking forward to the conversation. >> and what is the supreme court allied commander, what does that entail? >> militarily you're ostensibly the commander of nato forces that are operational. those that have been called to duty or those that are on day-to-day standing at sea and in the air, and on the ground
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in ur our units forward in europe. there's between you and the frontline troops and you're providing guidance, et cetera, to carry the mission of nato and the military forces activated. >> go ahead and finish your thought, go ahead. >> the factor is more of a representative for the military and of the military to the nac, the north atlantic council. when we need to do something militarily in nato, the decision to do for it, the decision to provide for is for nac is one of the factors is go to that governing body to get the troops you need. >> might be helpful to know the numbers we're talking about in terms of potential troops from nato, the overall number of
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u.s. troops that are available there in europe now and obviously the president is putting 8500 additional troops on higher alert. >> so, as far as the u.s. goes, there's about 65,000 or so u.s. troops assigned to u.s.-european command and remember that the nato position, but the u.s.-european command commander is the same decision. so the factor in the u.s. roles commands those u.s. forces. even though there's 65,000 at any one time, it fluctuates because of the temporarily assigned troops, up to 9,000 on a day-to-day basis and that number can go up and down as troops move in and out as suggests with the forces that we've alerted. >> what sort of things are the nato countries working through right now in determining how to respond to militarily, in the event of some sort of military
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action by russia? what sort of exercises might they be going through in concerns over their own border defense, for example? >> well, it's both that you've talked about. so a lot of people forget article three when it comes to nato. everybody always remembers article five, which says, it's collective defense if someone is attacked, we're all attacked. but article three in a georgia boy's vernacular is defense begins at home. every nation is responsible to aid in the defense of itself and to create capacities and capabilities that it can lend to the alliance to help in the defense of others. right now nations are first focused on article three what do they need to do to make sure that their borders are secure. remember, we have a few nations who border russia, very close
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to russian forces and they are looking at those requirements and they're looking at how they can contribute to the larger mission, you've already seen tle and mib a couple more, even, in the next few days, three nations providing forces now to go forward to respond to this provocation by mr. putin russia. we've seen several nations providing fighter jets to go forward. we've seen several nations alerting and moving and exercising ships at sea, et cetera, et cetera. already in this crisis, nato is beginning to respond. >> i won't ask you to name names, based on supreme allied commander, were there those that were not militarily ready to take on a role such as this? >> well, every nation brings something.
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i always like to tell the stories of the small baltic nations and the things that we've asked them to do and they've done so well. one of the best tactical air control party, those young men and women on the ground who controls airplanes on a conflict. one of the best training schools in the world is nato because we asked one of those countries, listen we know you can't provide armored divisions and brigades, we'd like you to train these and they did a magnificent jobs. most of the nato's who served in afghanistan were trained there. every nation gives something, you're right, your supposition is right. some of the nations don't have large standing forces that they can send in, but they contribute in their own way and nato actually has an office at headquarters in brussels which helps these nations that have less capacity to give them
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targets of things that they can provide for the alliance. it works fairly good. it doesn't always work perfectly, but in general, all contribute. you've always been using a keen eye how the biden administration is acting with nato and how this is mounting and grow, and late last year, you signed onto a letter here from the atlantic council on that letter. and how to deal with the kremlin created crisis in europe. in that late letter, the most important thing the with he is can to now is enhance the strength of ukraine's forces, providing equipment and training on expedited basis and nato should bolster the presence on the eastern flank and communicating to moscow, that escalation would bring u.s. and allied forces and permanent presence in the baltic black sea region. how far, what progress do you
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think the administration has made on those points? >> you brought up a lot of-- we may have to go back and remind. let me start at the top and if you read the whole letter, you'd also see that one of the things we say is, that the first and most-- one of the most important things that the nato alliance do is actually not a military thing. it is to show solidarity, to make sure that mr. putin sees a solid green nato alliance that is on point, that's what he's doing is not acceptable. and that is still important today. and we need to make sure that mr. putin will not look at nato or the eu for that matter and pick us apart against each other. the first and foremost thing is work on our solidarity alliance and solidarity mission and the solidarity of purpose of what we're doing and then we begin to look at the military options
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that we can do. mr. putin in the two documents, which you may or may not have read, that he sent to the west to nato, and focusing on america, you know, he said, these are the things you have to do. it's all or nothing. if you don't agree, we're going to invade. and of course, na started a dialog, which is going forward today. but in those, two of the things that he's says he's most worried about are forces forward and weapons forward in the bordering nations. and so, one of the things that various authors of that document that we worked on together, one of the things that we said is that we need to show him that if he continues with his bellicose path and invades, that he will get exactly what he didn't want, and that is more forces forward and more weapons forward. you know, if you raise children or if you're helping raise your
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grandchildren now, you know as a two-year-old that if you reward bad behavior, or allow bad behavior to stand, you're going to get more bad behavior. so we need to now take a stand in the west that sends a message to mr. putin that he obviously didn't get in 2008 when he invaded georgia and didn't get the message in 2013 and 14, the first two times he invaded ukraine. so our letter speaks to beginning to show mr. putin, that there are costs to these actions. >> our guest is retired general phillip breedlove former supreme court allied commander of nato and with us this morning to take your questions and comments on the situations in ukraine, russia, and the nato alliance. and we'll open up the phone lines to hear from you, and the line to call 202-748-8000,
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202-74880001, if you're active or former military the hine 202-748-8002. general breedlove, you mentioned forcs forward and the new york times on russian forces around ukraine, and those forces forward now include forces that moved into belarus. >> and that's particularly concerning, isn't it? because forces in belarus can move very far west without having to fight. let's bring back to 2014 and what was one of the major problems that mr. putin facedments they were given many names, i used moms in moscowment and a hue and cry, people taking to the streets their sons coming home in body bags and i think in this instance, mr. putin is concerned how that might play
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out. he can advance through belarus and lose almost none of his soldiers and that route, that approach takes him near kiev with little loss of life. one of the options, almost the same option going through dombach. it's not talked about in the press, his approximately forces are there and he can match there and not lose a lot of life. those are options in front of him. >> let's ask about the administration's first military response to the 8500 troops that are now on higher alert. what was that intended to show to the russians? >> well, as i understand it, those 8500 troops are our part
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of contributions to the nrf in the nato, the nato response forces, so the idea is that we are preparing the troops that we would accepted should nato call up portions of the nrf or employ it. theoretically we could have this attached to other nato troops to show the resolve of the alliance in europe. >> you touched on this briefly. you were supreme allied commander during that time when the russians came in and took over crimea so some of this a bit of deja vu for you. >> and that's why i bring up the discussion about if we reward bad behavior or if we allow it to stand, we'll see it again. i think that if history will
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tell us when we look back that the west in its response to georgia was not enough, was not adequate to task and i think history will look back at what we did in 13 and 14 and say much the same. we allowed bad behavior to stand. russia is still occupying crimea and russia is still in dombas and supporting proxy troops there. deja vu, however you want to label it, again if we allow bad behavior to stand, we will see it again, every time mr. putin needs something, he knows the tools that agitates us the most. >> you were the 17th supreme allied commander of nato forces and a legacy that goes back to general dwight david eisenhower, two things, has it been totally u.s. generals to head nato? and secondly, how much is the
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legacy of ike eisenhower continues in that position? >> yes, it is always a u.s. general. now there have been conversations about that changing or possibly adjusting that, there are some mechanical and structural issues how nuclear forces are handled, et cetera, but i don't preclude the opportunity that in the future sometime we might see a non-american, but to this point the united states has led nato in every case and again, it's about the u.s.-european command commander who is then selected to be-- an interesting dance how the two entities work through the congress and work through the nac to get the same person approved, but it is an amazing legacy and when you sit at his desk, the very same desk that he sat at in the office, it's impressive. a small joke, i'm a rather tall
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guy so when i got in there, general eisenhower was a rather short guy. i had to have four inches of leg to the desk to get my knees under it. behind you is the bust of the general to the left is a weapon enshrined there, there's a great legacy of leadership that started with the very tough decisions that were made at d-day and after that by the man who was sector number one. >> we've got plenty of calls. let's go to brenda in syracuse, new york. good morning. >> good morning, yes, general. i have a son deployed in south korea right now and i don't believe until every 18 to 35-year-old eu, man and woman, are deployed to ukraine, not one american boot should touch that soil. we've had enough of fighting for everybody else. nobody does nothing for us, september for steal our economy
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and flood our country with beg gars, eu enough is enough. in afghanistan, trillions in debt, sorry, not worth it. >> brenda, first of all, let me thank you for your son's service, or your family member's service in south korea. i served there three times and my third child was born in seoul so i understand the sacrifice and things that he is doing over there and it's important. of course, we've got issues in that part of the world as well. and i understand your position, there's a lot of americans that feel that way. i don't share your position, having served in europe eight times, having two daughters that are born there. i understand the importance of what europe means to us half of our economy is still connected to europe and what goes on there, reflects immediately in
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america. and i would just add that there's -- again, i'm not denigrating your position, i understand it. i just have a different one, and america had very much your opinion before world war i and before world war ii of course those were incredibly costly to us, but i think they were incredibly important in shaping the world that you and i now enjoy. >> let's hear from mike in philadelphia. >> good morning. >> well, good morning, general. yeah, i'm trying to piggyback the previous comment. basically i want to make a comment and then ask a question. and the comment is that this seems to be a-- >> you can watch the rest this have at we'll take you back live to the atlantic council for nato's defense strategy. among the speakers, retired wesley clark former supreme allied


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